We are at a real crossroads in our country as most Americans can neither afford health care coverage nor the cost of prescription drugs.
There are several state and national plans being discussed to try to make health care a right and not a privilege in the United States.
Unfortunately, there are still too many folks who want to treat health care as a business; paid for by private health insurance and let those without coverage die or become extremely debilitated and chronically ill in the process of not affording care.
Why is it that health insurance companies are one of the best investments for stockholders these days? And then there are the pharmaceutical companies who keep raising their prices. What is the average citizen to do? And in Vermont, is our one ACO, OneCare saving us money or leading us down the road to bankruptcy with yet another layer of administration and huge executive salaries?
Right now in Congress, thanks to Sen. Bernie Sanders and others, there is a very important vote coming up to decrease the age one can access Medicare from 65 to 60, expand coverage to include dental, vision and hearing costs, negotiate drug prices and put a cap on out-of-pocket individual costs. While some multi-millionaires and billionaires may have to pay a little more for their coverage which will be covered by taxes rather than premiums, no one should become chronically ill due to not having healthcare coverage as they age out of the workforce or have to go without medicine due to the high cost.
Although this is just a start and does not cover everyone, it should wake us all up to the growing need for healthcare coverage for everyone regardless of one’s ability to pay into the system. After all, in my belief system, healthcare is a social need and not a business venture known as “health insurance.”
Medicare dollars should not be going to private Medicare Advantage programs that “cherry pick” their clientele and stop coverage “lemon drop” when the individual price becomes too hefty. Unfortunately, our free enterprise system puts no controls on health coverage as is done in most other advanced countries and right now many new Medicare recipients think they are getting a better deal by going with private insurers. It is great, unless you get really sick.
However, if you agree with the importance of this imminent vote, please contact Sens. Patrick Leahy and Sanders and if you know of any other family members in other states, let them know your feelings. There is also a petition circulating which you may want to sign at www.strengthenmedicarenow.org. If we all work together for a common purpose, I believe democracy will always win over greed.
Mary Alice Bisbee lives in Montpelier.